Announcer: 00:00:00 – It’s Two-Brain Radio. Every week we’ll deliver top-shelf tactics to help you improve your fitness business and move you closer to wealth. And now here’s your host, the most interesting man in fitness, Chris Cooper.
Chris: 00:00:17 – This episode is brought to you by Zen Planner. If you’ve read my books, you know that I’ve been a Mindbody guy since about 2007, but this year something happened that made a massive difference. I met Zen Planner. And talking to these guys, I realized how responsive they are and how much they actually care about CrossFit affiliates and the gym industry in general. These guys are willing to listen. They’ll make changes based on what gyms actually need instead of the window dressing stuff that gym owners just kind of like, they think it makes them look cool. Things that will actually change the client experience. Metrics that your coaches can use to gauge how well your clients are reacting to your programming. Check-in tools, attendance tools, WOD tracking and scoreboards, the ability to plan and have people book appointments online and pay online. True automation of your business.
Chris: 00:01:13 – I love working with these guys. We’re gonna have a great relationship through building a customized Two-Brain dashboard and they’ve got so many amazing upgrades in the pipeline that will cancel out the need for other software. You should check them out. Zenplanner.com. They’ve been around forever, but they keep getting better. I have a special relationship with today’s guest, even though before this podcast, we’d only ever spoken once in person. In early 2007 we were considering trying CrossFit at my personal-training studio. We’d already been in business for a couple of years and we were doing OK, but one of my coaches said, yeah, I’ll do that for a month. A few months later after I’d gotten a couple of powerlifting meets out of my way, I joined them. I thought, well, this will be kind of fun for the off-season, a good break to rest my joints. I had just done a bunch of big lifts and looking at the CrossFit workouts, I thought those weights don’t really seem that heavy.
Chris: 00:02:06 – Even better, we were watching footage and reading articles from the CrossFit Games, and this guy, a Canadian kind of a ginger, James Fitzgerald, won. To win the CrossFit Games., James OPT Fitzgerald, had to run really fast. He had to do this metcon, whatever the heck that was, that came out of a peanut roaster and he had to deadlift. At that point in time, I was a specialist and my deadlift was bigger than his was, but I didn’t know what specialist meant and so that was enough to encourage me to try CrossFit. Here’s the fittest man on Earth and I can pick a heavier thing up off the ground than he can. Success doesn’t require motivation. Motivation requires success. Just like I tell my clients in my gyms, I’m going to find something you’re good at right away. Deadlifting was my thing when I came into CrossFit, and James Fitzgerald motivated me to take that first step because I knew that I could do that one thing specially well. As many of you know, James left Canada for the much warmer climes of Arizona.
Chris: 00:03:10 – He started OPEX and OPEX grew to become one of the most popular training organizations for coaches in the world. Rightly so. He’s got a lot of fantastic programs and now on the eve of a big rollout for the OPEX brand physical location gyms, James and Jim Crowell, also of OPEX join me on this webinar to talk about their model, how it all works, how individual program design works in general, what some flaws they believe they see in the group model might be and how they, as caring, conscientious coaches, are working to plug those holes. Now everyone listening to this podcast knows that I’m a huge fan of CrossFit, both the fitness methodology and its power to change lives, but also the business leverage that the CrossFit brand has given us has created this brand-new entrepreneurial opportunity for guys like me who were personal trainers and strength coaches for years but never could really get successful at it financially.
Chris: 00:04:09 – But being pro-CrossFit doesn’t mean that you’re anti anything else. Knowledge is not a zero-sum game. And sometimes to expand your knowledge, you have to consider not just slightly different viewpoints, but completely alternative viewpoints. You have to sleep in the other guy’s camp overnight before you can say, “I understand what lights his fire.” The prescriptive model that we teach at Two-Brain Business is a combination of one-on-one and group training. Most listeners to this podcast spend most of their time training groups. James is on the other end of that spectrum. He spends all of his time training people one on one. His gym model is quite a bit different. His brain is really, really big. You’re going to love this podcast. Please help me welcome James OPT Fitzgerald and Jim Crowell of OPEX Fitness.
Chris: 00:05:04 – Guys, welcome to the show.
Jim: 00:05:05 – Thanks for having us, Chris.
James: 00:05:06 – Yeah, thanks.
Chris: 00:05:07 – Oh, it’s my pleasure and my honor. So let’s just talk about kind of the story for those who aren’t as familiar with you. You know, what was the story from Optimum Performance Training to OPEX?
James: 00:05:19 – Yeah, it started with me just developing my own business on personal training, strength and conditioning and that developed over time with no real rhyme or reason as to how to make it happen to multiple facilities and opportunities within Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Of a brick and mortar. And that success grew to the point where, you know, folks out there were asking about that success or what it looked like. And to be completely honest, I didn’t know what the initial answer was to answer them wit, I was like, “Well, I kinda just do this,” and of course, within that there was a lot of mistakes, but there was a lot of good things in terms of how the systems were set up to create success for the coach and the client.
James: 00:06:07 – And so, you know, in later on as a coach in your career, I think you want to really feel like you make an impact. You still have to be working with people, but you want to be teaching other coaches about your experiences and what is good coaching practices. And so that led into, education. Our educations, which is CCP, to teach coaches. And through that mold transition to starting to teach CCP, just based upon my personal time, I had a number of clients online, mainly in the sport of CrossFit, that I was training around the world and started teaching these coaches around the world with a large following from the functional fitness world about these principles in fitness. And the OPTPEX thing is really just, it was Canadian, the naming. We went from OPT in Canada, which was my original business since 1999, and moved to the States and wanted to start using that legally as our business.
James: 00:07:05 – But it was not used, it was not trademarked, but it was used by another fitness company. Some of you may know NASA and Michael Clark’s company for personal training, they had an OPT model so they did not have that trademarked, but we just didn’t want to go through the hassle of going to the legalities of trying to get that name because they probably would’ve won out in the end in with their first naming. So we changed the name to something similar with the same kind of idea in mind of optimum experience. And that’s what OPEX is. We still mainly do those things that grew from that really personal training, location, strength and conditioning location to what we do today and educate coaches and coach people around the world. And now set people up for success in gyms.
Chris: 00:07:47 – OK. We’re going to talk about the gaps that you maybe saw in the business models or maybe that are emerging in the business models now. Firstly, what is your day-to-day operation look like, James? You’ve got a physical location, but you’re also working a lot of time online. What do you do in a day?
James: 00:08:03 – Yeah. I don’t coach online with people anymore. So my current day to day is coaching coaches who are with OPEX HQ. And we offer services to coach people online around the world. So I educate and help manage and run that group and I help lead the fulfillment and organization of the information that’s in our coaching education program, my day to day.
Chris: 00:08:29 – OK. So Jim, tell us your story. How do you fit in all this?
Jim: 00:08:34 – I came into OPEX from a CrossFit model as well. I owned multiple CrossFit facilities that I ultimately ended up selling. Prior to that though, I was actually a commodities trader for a hedge fund. So, you know, I kinda came into this thing thinking business prior to thinking of it from a coaching standpoint. So as I got more and more into the coaching and the understanding of what coaching was and wasn’t, I sought what I wanted to understand is better coaching practices and every road led to OPEX. So when I first started to talk to James and the rest of the folks at OPEX, it just made a lot of sense to me. And I knew that, you know, for me personally, I wanted to shift the model that I was working under. So I ended up selling the gyms that I had, came out here to coach for OPEX and pretty quickly realized that my passion still highly line aligned with the business side. So I also don’t coach clients anymore. I’m working to grow the business lines. So, you know, I work with James on the licensing side and then overall work to grow the business lines across the board.
Chris: 00:09:41 – All right guys. So that was great. And you know, we took care of a lot of that, the detailed stuff now. The big question I guess is, you know, what is the OPEX model? How is it different from the typical functional fitness model or what we’re doing in CrossFit gyms?
Jim: 00:09:58 – The biggest difference is that it’s a one-to-one model where each client has their own unique coach. That fulfillment of that product, though, looks as if it were with a group of people. So you’re working out with other people on the gym floor. There is a coach on the gym floor, but you have your own personal coach who’s helping you with program design, with nutrition, with lifestyle practices. They have consultations with you on an ongoing basis and they are constantly monitoring your progress through a program so you don’t run into the same scaling issues that you might in a CrossFit a group setting in terms of client-to-coach interaction time and the, you know, let’s call it the paying attention of a specific program per client.
Chris: 00:10:41 – Let’s say that I’m a client walking into your gym today. What do I start with? What does the prescription look like?
Jim: 00:10:48 – So you would initially have a conversation just to kind of understand where you want to go. In the very beginning of a model that would probably be with the coach owner because they are running this model on their own in the beginning. As you scale, that could be a salesperson, etc. But you’d have a conversation to understand where your alignment was with training, with fitness, with your goals, what they want it to be, and then you’d move into a consultation process with a coach. So again, that might be the coach owner that you originally talked to, but you would move into it with them. You’d have probably anywhere from a 60 to 180-minute over a couple of days session with that coach for consultation into assessment. So you’d have a full-on assessment with where you stood physically so that the coach understood what the most important aspects of the program needed to be upfront.
Jim: 00:11:37 – And then once you got through that assessment process, you would move into program design where the coach is designing every workout for you. You would get that program sent to you. We use a platform, really high-end programming platform called Fitbot. You’d get that program sent through Fitbot and you’d work out technically on your own. Now, again, there’s a coach on the floor, but the goal is for that coach not to personal train you. It’s for them to be there as an assistant, as a support mechanism for you. So you would go through that and then on an ongoing monthly basis, you continue to have consultations with your coach. They continue to monitor the progress of all of the workouts that they sent you through the Fitbot platform. And then obviously day to day on the floor of the gym, you’d have conversations not only with the coach, but also other clients, other coaches on the floor, and progress long term that way.
Chris: 00:12:25 – OK. So, you know, just from reading a lot of your stuff, are you targeting these OPEX centers at CrossFitters or, you know, how does an absolute beginner learn the stuff before you give them their homework?
Jim: 00:12:37 – Yeah, so depending on the specific person, our big thought is why would somebody who’s brand new to fitness need to do something like squat clean? They shouldn’t, you know, so they should build into a program that is designed specifically for what they’re able to do up front. So now they do have a coach on the floor to help them through that process. And we do offer private training for people who need a specific, you know, conversation or actual session to learn something very specific. But overall we would say that you don’t need to put somebody into a movement that they can’t do because you know, they would probably develop bad habits from that.
Chris: 00:13:16 – OK. So let’s start with me as a brand-new client. You know, so what are some movements that I can do and how do you start coaching me on those?
James: 00:13:25 – Your assessment dictates what you can do. So the assessment makes it pretty clear in communication from the coach and the client, which is what would I teach in the CCP. It makes it pretty clear as to where you sit on your starting point. And so we go through vitals, you know, the typical head-to-toe measurement of how your body moves, and then put you through some actual movement scenarios as well as work capacity. And that’s fairly detailed. But that’s in the end what you’re going to get as a coach. So at the end of it, then you have this idea as to where this person starts in their exercise. I’d second what Jim said, and really we’ve been trying to fit people into this mold of fitness as to what the market wants, and we forget that a client start should start on exercises to where they are. So the assessment dictates that. Confusion that people have in understanding how people can work on their own is really because of my fault as well as the fast-track middle, you know, high-intensity model’s fault, in that we all believe that we need to get shit done really quickly. And so it’s even in our consciousness, we can’t understand how people can exercise and learn on their own. It’s just that you can’t see it until you really see it. So, you know, someone comes in and they really need to get on an Assault bike and do some step-ups and learn a core exercise and do that three times a week. And it’s going help make them more vital and healthy, then that’s the best program for them.
James: 00:14:54 – Now how do we come up with that program? That was dictated by the assessment that we did with that client. So if you came in and we saw you were capable of doing a whole bunch of shit, then that’s what your training is going to be. You’re probably more competent in some of those movements or we may have to move you back a little bit based upon philosophy where you sit or just stress adaptation and what you’re trying to do for your goals.
Chris: 00:15:14 – OK. So how do you determine when somebody is ready for more complexity? You know, when I saw you winning the CrossFit Games, I was just coming out of a powerlifting career. And so, I had zero Olympic lifting experience. So if I came in today with that background, how do you know it’s time for me to learn how to do a snatch?
James: 00:15:34 – Yeah. So we did dictate that in the assessment. There’s an area there for us to look at. First of all, movement quality is the number-one thing that we want to have in place. And then there’s, you know, levels of assisting in assessment that gets you to the point that indicates that you’re capable of developing force. So when we talk about complexity, we don’t just use it as a tool, we base biological principles on if you should do it. Now because I just know a little bit about your background, you just mentioned it, I would still want to screen to ensure that you actually have the repetitions and the general strength that was required to do complexity, cause doing a power snatch with a PVC pipe is useless if you can’t, you know, do a lunge with your own body weight.
James: 00:16:18 – So to make—that’s to put it in a polar sense, but based upon your powerlifting career, you probably have no issue with that. So in the assessment, which I detail for coaches, it lays out your strength-to-speed ratio. And then based upon those principles, coaches can look at that and see that your squat, deadlift and press and bench press and weighted pull-up and weighted dip look like this and here’s your scores. And in balanced fitness, this is what your complex work should be based upon that. If you so choose you want to do that, cause you said you want it to be more complex, then we would test those as well and say, well you’re much stronger than you are fast based upon how these things line up, because it’s been hundreds and hundreds of years, really, people have been looking at those values of absolute to strength, speed to speed strength, absolute speed ratios and where people should start. So if you wanted to do complexity and express that, my first thing would be movement quality. And then do you actually have the capabilities of creating force and force development. And if you do, then that’s what’s going to be designed in your exercise program.
Chris: 00:17:20 – OK. So you do see value in incorporating the Olympic lifts. I mean, when I came out of powerlifting it had never occurred to me to do a power clean or a snatch.
James: 00:17:30 – Yeah. So as again, I’ll mention it, that no one deserves to do it because it exists. That’s not the right prescription. And that’s where functional fitness in the intense model have gone. They’ve slapped absolute speed, speed strength and strength speed in a fitness market because it exists. But we teach coaches to coach people based upon where they sit biologically and how they can express those things.
James: 00:17:57 – So because you had a powerlifting background, you could express force development, you can move weight at a quicker rate. So what are you going to be doing mainly Chris, to get really individualizing prescription? You’re gonna be doing snatch clean and jerk derivatives maybe five times a week, largely based on skill development. Why? Because you have the ability to create force development. So yeah, we do believe in—I believe in sprinting, but I don’t believe that everyone should do it. I believe in plyometrics, but I don’t believe everyone should do it. Everyone has to earn the ability to be able to do that.
Chris: 00:18:31 – OK. Is there a point where you say, “This far and no further. Chris doesn’t need to learn a muscle-up.”
James: 00:18:33 – I don’t want to make an assumption on it, but I think what you’re saying is that someone says they want to do that, but really they shouldn’t need to do that. Is that what you’re asking?
Chris: 00:18:47 – No, sorry. It’s just like, OK, coach realized this is enough complexity for Chris. He doesn’t need to have things like ring dips or muscle-ups added into his program to achieve fitness anymore.
James: 00:18:59 – I’m still not understanding the question.
Jim: 00:19:01 – Would we stop somebody.
James: 00:19:04 – The assessment dictates that. So if you have a complex, you know, gymnastic skill, then a coach would have the knowledge to say, where do they sit on this motor coordination, strength endurance, maximal contraction ability for that individual. And that’s done through the assessments. So if you’re at a point where you have the prerequisites and the ability to not just do those things once, but to be able to do them as skills and skill development, then there’s no reason why you can’t do that. It’s just basically movement, you know, it’s forms of movement.
Chris: 00:19:43 – Yeah. So I guess my question was, is there ever a case where you’re never going to introduce a muscle-up to somebody? It’s just not even going to be on their radar?
James: 00:19:52 – Yeah, it’s 95% of every human that comes into a gym around the world.
Chris: 00:19:56 – OK. So this is what I’m getting to, guys, is like, are we tailoring the service to the broad fitness community or are we really focusing primarily on individual program design for athletes here?
James: 00:20:09 – In OPEX or just overall in our conversation?
Chris: 00:20:11 – In OPEX.
James: 00:20:12 – I think it’s middle, because we’re going to have some people who can, to use your point of it, can do muscle-ups because they actually have the ability to be able to do that. So it’s going to be tailored for people to move them from where they start going forward, moving forward.
Chris: 00:20:28 – OK. How do people who haven’t found you through CrossFit, how do they typically find OPEX?
Jim: 00:20:36 – From a local facility standpoint we have all the normal business practices that, you know, a local gym would have, you know. So, we’ve got a website with SEO. We hit on Facebook, we do networking with our coaches. Referral marketing is very popular for bringing new clients into our facility. If we’re talking about, you know, remote coaching, that business is very much about an athletic market, you know, so we are doing a lot within functional fitness market for those people. But our gyms specifically, they’re having discussions with all kinds of people outside of that world because, you know, we would use genpop as the term because that’s going to be who makes up a bulk share of the people who they’re working with, you know, so they have to develop the business practices to make sure that they are talking to those people through different formats, digital networking, etc.
James: 00:21:26 – For the education and our reach, Chris, it’s basically just happening due to the market just requesting this, you know, this knowledge on, you know, this new form of functional fitness that came to be in the mid-nineties, late nineties.
Jim: 00:21:44 – And something that we often discuss, too is that, you know, functional fitness doesn’t need to be muscle-up. You know, functional fitness can be walking, jogging, biking, you know. So I think we gotta be careful on slapping too many different things on what the term is, isn’t, you know, it’s kind of in the eye of the beholder.
Chris: 00:22:02 – Yeah, I think that’s an excellent point. So, you know, the biggest question when I was asking members of the Two-Brain group what would you like to ask James and Jim, was predominantly over and over where do new clients come from in your model? And it could just be the market that I’m seeing where my gyms are, but most people coming in are not looking to do the higher-intensity CrossFi- type stuff anymore. They’re just looking to get fit. So when someone new comes to an OPEX physical location, is there kind of an average avatar of the person that you’re looking for?
Jim: 00:22:37 – Yeah. That really would be that quote unquote “genpop” person that we’re talking about. So it’s the person who does want to achieve things and fitness is the medium. So it’s, you know, not necessarily fitness is their end goal. It’s simply the medium that they use to feel better to get to the goals that they have inside and outside of the gym. So it’s not about a high-level athlete inside of our gyms.
Chris: 00:23:03 – OK. And as you said, you know, part of it’s with a consultation and then first prescription, right?
Jim: 00:23:09 – Yeah. First and then ongoing. Yeah.
Chris: 00:23:12 – OK. So how frequently is the ongoing prescription guys? And I interrupted our flow there. Sorry about that.
James: 00:23:18 – Yeah, no problem. That’s really up to the client and coach’s relationship that’s built. We do have a model that we teach, you know, a recommended amount when you first start developing a relationship with someone. But that’s the great thing about what’s inside of what we teach as well, how to implement that is that the coach gets to decide because they actually do have time to be able to find those periods for someone who needs an increase in height and relationship building initially. And then over time we’re basically teaching them how to fish. But there’s no specific number to that. It could be every week for the first six weeks. It could be, you know, once a month for the first 36 months. And it’s based upon what that person needs and communication with the coach, but we allow a little bit of that variation simply because you’re going to see them all the time.
James: 00:24:05 – So you’re getting updates with them and a constant feel in terms of where they sit on progressions. And so if someone, you know, you see them on a Wednesday and you see just to use a, you know, layman’s verb of it, they’re a little bit down and out or they’re not warmed up properly, they’re doing some movements, you know, you can pull them aside for 10 minutes and be able to say, “Yo, I’m noticing this, you know, do you need some help with it or do we need a couple minutes just to discuss like recovery coming in or what’s going on?” And so that may be a consult upgrade, that’s not necessarily in place as a systematic process, which you’d obviously appreciate for scale and also making sense of making it work for everyone. We do recommend a really more aggressive up-front relationship build. And then once a month there’s these bigger consultations that are big life coaching pieces, review of the nutritional profile, review of the program, you know, get some retesting done and see exactly where they’re moving in the direction.
Jim: 00:25:00 – One of the nice things about our platform on Fitbot too is that, you know, we can have an access point as managers to understand coaches’ programming, too. So, the coaches have the autonomy to understand every day what’s going on in their client’s program and tweak accordingly. But from an ownership or a management standpoint, we can look in and see what’s actually happening if we were to see, you know, see a situation that wasn’t where we wanted it to be.
Chris: 00:25:27 – OK. So let’s say that I had my program and I was a couple of months in and I see somebody else in the gym and he’s doing this power clean and I come back to you, my coach, Jim. “Hey man, I want to do that, too.” Well, what’s the process from there?
James: 00:25:41 – Yeah, the same question I answered earlier, number one, that client coming in recognizes that everything in the program, in the gym, is individualized. And that’s the separator I think we have in the market that we have some quality control over that the client recognizes that’s the relation between them and the coach and their assessment that dictates what they can do. So as you know about the pain of that, of answering the questions, I’ve answered a thousand of those over a period of couple of years, and that’s why I set this up so it wouldn’t get coaches into that handcuff position.
James: 00:26:14 – And if it does seem to happen, then you’re going to simply have an opportunity there. There’s an opportunity to discuss with the client and build a deeper relationship on why they are doing what they’re doing. So really, you know, of course it may happen, Chris, but we want to clean that up from the initial front process of the brand into pre-qualification, into the, you know, expectation as to what they’re going to get with the program. So perfect lifestyle, you know, within coaches and the platform within an OPEX gym is they’re never going have to answer that question again.
Chris: 00:26:44 – Oh, that’s a really great perspective. Thanks. All right, so flipping that now, Jim decides, “OK, Chris should be doing some power cleans in this workout.” How does that change our relationship? Does it change it financially? Do we have to do more sessions? How does that go?
James: 00:26:59 – No. This can be on a reconsult per month or like on a second week of their training program where the coach can now dedicate some time put aside to teaching said specific skill.
Chris: 00:27:10 – OK. So that’s just kinda determined on an as needed basis. Is that right?
James: 00:27:14 – Yeah. So we’ll, you know, you came to—say Jim’s the athlete, I’m the coach, by the way, you gotta do a lot more squatting than power cleaning, but—
Jim: 00:27:23 – I couldn’t develop force, Chris.
James: 00:27:28 – There’s a good story of that. So, he said he wanted to do that. It’s like, you know what, you are right. The complexity of it is great. You’ve built up, you know, your training to that, we’ve developed this nine-month goal that you wanted to do some kind of fitness competition or maybe it’s a sporting thing for you. You know, you’re playing tennis and you’ve been training for four or five years and it’s like, you know, this may be effective for rate of force development. So you are right, Jim. We need to develop that. Then through a reassessment, which is going to be happening, I have to still put the numbers out on the board as to how their strength and speed correlates. So we have to test that, which I’m going to set up with him. So the actual mechanics of it is through Fitbot or seeing him on the floor.
James: 00:28:08 – He’s like, “Yeah, I want to do that.” It’s like, “OK, well let’s fricking, let’s assess that.” So we set aside a time where we’re going to meet and go over that. At that same period of time through the assessment, which is generally done every two weeks or every four weeks relative to how the coach sees fit, they’re going to be able to give them some time to give them where they sit on that, you know, let’s make it real simple because we know as coaches it’s complex, it’s a what’s called power-clean progression. So what does that initial point that they can get that they’re going to be able to do and drill that I can give through their program and then it’s going to be implemented in the training.
Chris: 00:28:42 – I see. OK. That answers the question. So I want to zoom out a little bit here because I know that you take a much more holistic approach than just prescribing exercise here. And although that stuff’s fascinating and I can talk about it for two hours, I’d like to hear a little bit about how you incorporate nutrition and also kind of the broader lifestyle prescription for your athletes.
James: 00:29:02 – Yeah, so if you think about the process that Jim eloquently went through earlier of people understanding on the outside what they want to do for fitness, and then, as you know, I’m sure with your group too, that initial relationship-building process is a really, really key point, not just in business and success of that business long term, but being able to set those clients up for success. And so we teach actual aspects of behavior change and nourishment to clients—or to coaches, so that they have the tools available based upon what that client comes in with and says what they want to do. We teach the mechanics of things like communication, you know, simple stuff like that. Relationship-building, goal-setting. Masculine-feminine continuum, how to build trust, how to develop priorities and values, which sets a coach up with a real deep understanding as to what that client wants to do. We add to that aspects of nourishment. So teaching the coach how to nourish this person through their entire lifetime of journey in an OPEX gym as a client. And what that does involve is some nutrition practice, basic lifestyle guidelines basically for most people, and a prescription as to how to create behavioral changes that result in success for that. And then for each of those, along with program design, we have trends and markers to indicate how you’re going to ensure their success in those things that you prescribed.
Chris: 00:30:30 – That’s fantastic guys. And really this is the part that intrigues me the most. You know, exercise prescription is fantastic, but I think this is the other side of the coin or maybe this is the whole coin with coaching, is telling people when they should be taking a break. Right?
James: 00:30:45 – Yeah. Sorry. The opportunity to actually say that is built from the brand. That’s what we’re trying to do is to build that, that the coach becomes the professional so that they become the one who dictates the balance of what the client wants to do and what you know is best for them. And so setting them up with that education will result in you not having any problem in saying we need to take a couple of days.
Jim: 00:31:13 – And something that James mentioned really quickly that I’ve seen all over the place whether it be in our home gym or in these other gyms, it’s really the expectations up front idea. Because if somebody comes in thinking they can do anything that they want to do, you know, they can get way too long of a leash right out of the gates and then they never want to come back on leash. But if you set expectations up front to say, well you said that you want to run a marathon and that’s going to take you 18 months of consistent practice, you get a lot of reality sinking in very quickly from that client. You know? So that’s where there’s a big opportunity to say, here’s what is needed to get to where you want to go, effectively, injury-free, et cetera. And that’s where all of those holistic approaches can come in behind it so that you can set them up as effectively as you can for a long run as opposed to a quick fix that some people just, you know, they get marketing all over the place in front of them in magazines, et cetera. You know, a lot of people want the quick fix and we want to not have that be what they come in expecting to get.
Chris: 00:32:16 – Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, guys. I mean, it sounds like you’re taking control, you know, as Jim just said, keeping the leash basically in your hand instead of just waiting for the client to run into a wall on their own and then struggling to find their way back. So can you give me an example of maybe somebody who was just, you know, they were burned out and they didn’t need more exercise, they needed a break.
James: 00:32:37 – Yeah. Well, that’s easily reflective of the online market. And, you know, what that really involves is watching trends on physical activity. so, you know, cause the person may say this is exactly where I am and whatever the story may be, it results in that. So if we actually want to get a scientific, you know, understanding of what that means, is that they’re past the point where they can start adapting to new stressors that they’re going through. So we have to create an understanding for coaches so that they can recognize that within themselves to be able to see it. But also, and take it from me, I understand what that is, but also to be able to see it in clients and then being able to communicate that to clients can result in you basically figuring out the differences in what these signs are of overreaching versus over-training or what that burning out is.
James: 00:33:29 – And back to my point is that if nothing is measured and there was no data, which we do have the opportunity to do through the training program through Fitbot, then you will not be able to use any truth in performance or attach that to reality because the client may tell like a different story. Chris client may be like, “Oh no, I’m fine,” but you’re like, man, this person’s burning out. You’re going to sit down with them and be like, “Hey dude, I mean, I don’t know what to say, but you’ve done a 2k for the past three weeks over the past three months and it’s gotten worse in time. Do you want to discuss that maybe? And that’s a simple example, but it allows the person to actually see it and be like, yeah, you know, come here. You know, hugs. I’m showing hugs right now. You need a good hug. I needed a good hug multiple times for that.
Chris: 00:34:17 – Absolutely. What is stopping coaches from doing that for their clients now, guys?
James: 00:34:22 – The market has made coaching and the whole aspect of education of coaches, it’s been rape and pillage. And what’s been left as carnage is the coach. And that’s basically my mission. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing is to get the coach back in center. So it’s a really long story. So I won’t extend upon it, but it was because of the idea of high-intensity fitness. And I’m not naming names on that. That was a model that that proved true in terms of like existence in the mid-nineties and the market, quote unquote “general population” mainly, due to the increase in technology and social connection, everyone thought they can get fitness just as fast as they could get a Google search.
James: 00:35:09 – And this whole social perspective was well accepted. And then when you had education companies and large organizations looking at that going, hmm, you know, we have possibly an opportunity to teach massive amounts of people this idea on fitness and how to do it and let’s just allow everyone to do it with the whole story that we’re all getting obese and everyone’s out of shape so everyone has to do this fitness. And so over time the market has pushed due to, you know, a bunch of different reasons, to have the fast-track model. Now what was left on that was an owner possibly making great money on having that model in place in any gym, including globo gyms. But what was left on the side of the street was the coach being handcuffed and knowing as they sleep at night, this shit is not the right method for people for long-term results in fitness. And that’s what we ended up, you know, getting to, and I’m not laying blame on that, ’cause dude, I was fucking the main proponent of that movement, of basically, you know, researching it and looking into it and doing it and experimenting. But when it came down to putting it into a business practice, I couldn’t sleep at night.
Jim: 00:36:19 – Something important too is that the idea of what is long term, you know, so a lot of people now view long term as what, 20 minutes? You know, three months? So we kind of—the market views it as well, if it takes me more than that Google search that James mentioned, well that feels like forever. So reframing what long term really means to people is challenging, but it’s what needs to be done to get people progress for a long period of time.
Chris: 00:36:46 – OK. That’s really interesting. Let’s get on to the group subject here for a moment. And I agree with you. You know, we run a gym that has group training and we do a lot of personal training. And my clients who’ve been with me for 13, 14 years are all personal-training clients. Is there a place for a scheduled group and one-on-one training within the same gym?
James: 00:37:08 – It’s the same answer that just because it exists doesn’t mean that right or wrong. So you know, it happens. I mean there’s no place for it in ours. I mean the philosophy on that really just comes down to the belief and the philosophy of the gym really. And the product that you want to offer. Personal training—and listen, I was a personal trainer for many years. I know the benefits and I also know the cons of it. Personal training can get cash and it can get, you know, lots of experience. But it does pigeonhole you in terms of like cost and hours worked and how you can really make that robust. You got no time to teach other people.
James: 00:37:43 – You get no time for yourself over time. You just have cash and you go away and then you’ve got no cash. So it’s like, so there’s lots of benefits that I get it, but it doesn’t teach self responsibility for the client. That’s the issue around that, you know, in my heart and soul that I saw as being a problem for that. So it worked for the coach, right. But it didn’t work for the client long term, is what they want to do for fitness. And then you said group, and I saw a question on there, too. I think the aspect of, you know, especially it’s been propaganda, really, that really led to that word in terms of community, because I have more community in my gym and our gyms in the version of community, it’s all about your version of community, but when you do group workouts, you’re not talking to one another, if that’s what you mean by a social endeavor.
James: 00:38:24 – A social endeavor can happen as you know, pre-workout, after workout, whatever the case may be. So how do you keep a group identity while you’re all working at the same time? Ironically, in our model, people get to talk a whole lot more in our gyms when they’re exercising with other people cause we use principles of exercise of work-rest scenarios and you know, things that people are going to be able to do. So I just see the group as a templated prescription and I see personal training as a lack of self-responsibility long term. So if you do a group templated prescription, there’s not a right or wrong to that. It’s not a right or wrong personal training, but it’s based upon what the business wants to have inside of that and prior to for the longevity of that client and the coach and the business.
Chris: 00:39:03 – OK. So one of the things a proponent of the group-training model might say is every client who comes in is getting the same amount of coaching. In your model, how do you ensure that? You know, if somebody comes in and, oh, the coach is eating lunch, how are they getting coaching?
James: 00:39:21 – You gotta define coaching. You know, we’ve got to get on the same platform to define what coaching is. And the argument to that, I mean, I don’t even know how to answer it really. I don’t even know how to answer that. That’s someone, you know, one person is in the room with 20 people and they’re doing a workout. And you’re saying that each one of those 20 people are getting a direct coach?
Chris: 00:39:40 – Well, it depends how it’s set up, right? I mean, so in a lot of our gyms, what you’d see is a person getting one-on-one attention during a phase of that hour. I mean, they’re not getting the whole phase right? The coach is moving from person to person to person.
Jim: 00:39:55 – That that looks fairly similar to what our floor would look like in the sense that there is a coach on the floor, you know, working with clients who are doing their programming in the gym. So, you know, if we’re breaking it out into an hourly basis and there’s 20 people in group or 20 people in an individual design and there’s one coach, you know, the math would work out the same. And the way that we would track that would just be through systems and understanding of who needs to be on the floor when, you know, so we don’t call it group, you know, coaching a class per se. We would call it coaching on the floor. But if you need to be on from 12 to 1 as an example and you’re not on from 12 to 1, that’s a problem. You know, if you’re on the floor and you’re not actually working with clients. And remember, we don’t just ask our coaches to just push coaching, right? Like if somebody doesn’t need to be helped in a squat, the coach doesn’t need to help them in a squat. But if somebody needs some coaching and obviously there is a, you know, an engagement standpoint, conversations are happening between the coaches and the clients, et cetera, that would happen I think very similarly to a group environment.
Chris: 00:41:02 – Sure, sure. Do you want to give me a definition for coaching? So we’re on the same platform?
James: 00:41:08 – Mine is a deep relationship and understanding as to where the client sits and the ability with education and competency to support that on their journey of fitness. So if you use that as a definition, again, back to the point of what you would say the argument would be for the group model of having one coach there. And I don’t want to say that, you know, I’m around the world everywhere watching that, but I am everywhere around the world watching that. And I know the difference between that coaching, which I call fitness instruction, and I call what we do in that personal relationship-building coaching. And that could be just semantics, but that’s what my definition is.
Chris: 00:41:51 – No, that’s good. I mean, every definition is semantics, right? So that’s great. Now we’re on an equal playing field here as far as what we’re talking about. But, so the question is going to be though, how do you ensure that clients all get kind of equal time or whatever time they need? I guess equal’s the wrong word, but let’s say that you have one client who really needs the emotional attention of the coach the whole time they’re in the gym, right? How does the coach diffuse their attention among everybody who’s there?
James: 00:42:21 – Yeah, well in most cases that’s going to be cleared up again due to the brand and the prequalification and the expectations of the relationship. But let’s just say that it comes to that point. If you have a certain number of clientele, you know, as a personal trainer as well, or if you’ve done it before, that there’s some people that need more than others and that’s just the relationship built to qualify who needs a little bit more understanding than some other people. I’ll give you two really good examples that would, you know, bring it to the front for elite athleticism of names you would know. You know, so when Tennil Reed is in our gym, constantly if I’m there when I am training, we’re always having a conversation based on our training program and her coach Mike Lee and what these guys are doing.
James: 00:43:01 – So, but there’s always little upgrades to it. When Amanda Goodman’s here, she could be here for two weeks and we don’t say a thing to one another. So it’s not right or wrong in terms of the coach relationship or what’s required. But as you can see, there’s this mesh of human interaction that’s required to build the greatest relationship. And that’s what I think our gyms may offer, is a place to train for individuals who just treat fitness as breakfast. And also some people who may need a little bit more understanding of the human potential. And that’s what we’re there for. And ironically, most of our gyms, you know, go after people that actually need some of that life coaching and nourishment aspect and not the fancy shit of reps and sets and program design.
Chris: 00:43:40 – No kidding? Sorry, go ahead.
Jim: 00:43:43 – I was just gonna say too, remember that the coach who’s on the floor isn’t necessarily the coach of the client who’s on the floor. So if somebody, you know, takes minutes to discuss something with a client, they can certainly then say to that client’s coach, “Hey, you know, you might need to address this, you know, in the consultation because there might be something there,” you know. So it creates a bit of a teamwork environment between the coaches who are working inside of the gym.
Chris: 00:44:08 – OK. Guys, I’d like to give you an opportunity to talk about the business model of the new, you know, brick and mortar locations for OPEX gyms. Do you want to just describe how that works?
Jim: 00:44:18 – Yeah, really, and I’ll try to kind of tailor it for the audience on this call, you know, and who’s listening to this, cause you work with a lot of businesses already. You know, we want to sit in a different place in the market, frankly. We don’t want to sit in the same place as people who are trying to figure out, you know, how to charge $100 a month for training. You know, so our UXP is that we’re going to actually support the coach, the client, and the owner through this process. So the coach and the owner have full support through an education platform forever, frankly, but their first six months is built like a business incubator or accelerator program. So their first 24 weeks they’ve got homework and content and videos and then collaboration with James and myself on how they’re implementing all of these different components and content pieces into their facilities.
Jim: 00:45:09 – So the first six months allows them to get up and running with the model and working the model the way that we want them to work it. Once they are finished with that, we have an ongoing licensing program that continues to work with them on the business side. But what is really unique about it is that our model aligns with the way that we have the content rolling out. So not only do we work with them from the business standpoint, James and Henry Toronto and Mike Lee work with them weekly on coaching as well. So you have actual conversations about how to coach your clients more effectively, and that’s through the business side of being an OPEX gym. You know, so that’s a very short answer for what it is, but it’s built around educating them on how to run this model in an effective way so that they can scale up to where they want to go.
Jim: 00:45:54 – Because we want to build our model like they would build their model with their clients where some gyms want to have five or 10 gyms over time. That’s great. We want to build the model in a way that allows them to scale up in, you know, as big as they want. But some gyms want one to sit with 60 clients and they want to make X amount of dollars and we want to make sure that we can support them just as effectively. So there’s a lot of conversation around it. There’s a lot of consultation that goes along with it. And then obviously the branding is gearing up more and more as, you know, as these gyms get bigger and bigger and we want to support them with the brand as well that’s growing, too.
Chris: 00:46:28 – Yeah. James, what’s the long-term vision for OPEX?
James: 00:46:30 – Yeah, big picture. I really want to change; I want to have a massive impact before I leave this physical earth on fitness. Fitness has done so much for me and I just want to spread that vision as to what, you know, fitness—I wanna turn fitness into breakfast for people, and really bring it back to the forefront of honoring biology and physical culture. And I want to make a massive impact on fitness, personally. That’s my personal vision. Obviously I do it through a T-shirt. And that’s my vocation to work with a company like OPEX, work for a company like OPEX and you know, develop an education program where I feel I’m going to have my biggest impact. We all try to figure out those things like, well, maybe we all don’t, I don’t want to say that, but we have these big deep questions about like, what truly is impact to me personally and what truly is impact to me personally is changing each of those coaches’ lives and the way they think about fitness. And then the delivery of that obviously through remote coaching my CCP and the OPEX gyms. I just want to create a landscape of understanding of fitness that shifts back to, you know, really honoring that process of fitness and the fitness journey and where it sits in in someone’s lifetime.
Chris: 00:47:46 – So five years from now, where’s OPEX?
James: 00:47:50 – Yeah, more facilities operating really smoothly. It’s basically helping itself. It’s a system that’s set up to grow long term. Geographically, you know, in proponents of geography, there’s nothing really that’s going to hold us back from that. Obviously scale of the business will dictate that in density and geography, but I could see a lot more of them. We have numbers on that, but in five years there’d be a lot more OPEX gyms. And there would be the need still for education for coaches within those gyms, and there will need to be more infrastructure and resources through OPEX, which is going to be built by five years of the people having success in the OPEX gym to help that system run itself, to ensure that the brand becomes noticeable so that the market can start to recognize when they see that name, they know what experience they’re going to get in fitness in that brick-and-mortar location.
Chris: 00:48:43 – And I’m sure you’re at this stage now where you are actively pursuing some more brand recognition, right? So how are you doing that guys? How are you getting the OPEX word out there on the street to, you know, my mom?
Jim: 00:48:55 – Yeah, I mean it’s a combination of things. I don’t think there can be one component that would define an overall brand. So we’re doing a lot more video as we, you know, just even as we’re discussing this on the call, we’re putting more video out because that is what is being highly consumed by the market. We’re also though working with our gyms to provide a deep social-media platform as well because you know, our gyms are excited about what they’re doing and where they’re going and so they want to discuss, you know, the methodology that they’re using to coach their clients. So really in the last four to six months, we’ve seen a massive upswing on social media from our gyms really supporting the whole cause, too. But of course there’s all of the different advertising and marketing funnels out there. So you know, whether it be, you know, PR, whether it be email campaigns, whether it be social-media advertising through Facebook, Instagram, you know, Google SEO search, you know, AdWords, et cetera. We’re hitting on a lot of those large components to make sure that the word is getting out. But a big focus right now is developing a video platform where people can actually feel the difference between what our facilities are like and what they’re used to doing in their current facility.
Chris: 00:50:07 – OK. Is there a tipping point that you have in mind where you say, OK, this thing has a life of its own now and the snowball is big enough to carry its own weight?
Jim: 00:50:15 – That’s a tough question. I’m not sure what “carry its own weight” means. I mean, I’m a big structure guy, so I think that there always needs to be refinement of structure of any system. So we’re trying to structure it where it can scale to, you know, hundreds if not more gyms. You know, but one of the things we’ve got to remember is that we have territory protection on our gyms, you know, so we want to make sure that we’re scaling them properly where they have the first ability to scale themselves as opposed to just adding a bunch more facilities into the mix. I guess I don’t see it just working on its own because I think that we’re always going to be, not necessarily James and I 10 years, 20 years from now, but somebody’s going to be putting a lot of heart and soul into helping these coaches and owners, you know, continue to get better. But I do see that the scale of it and the marketing aspects of it should have a network effect. You know, as we add more gyms to the mix,
James: 00:51:10 – If you tie in, you know, expectations for technology and biology, in five to 10 years. It’s, you know, where things are moving in investment right now, it’s biotechnology and fitness people are forgetting sits right next to that, and people are going to create more appreciation to that. As you know, with changes within regulations, soil reduction, population increases, yada yada, yada, you know, more opportunity for people to try to live a faster life, you know, the next thing around the corner to get healed quick and fix quickly. Eventually there will be, if not, there’ll be a large opportunity for the shift in the market to actually measure ourselves as humans, you know, more effectively, to get a customized individual program. And so I see after that five-year to 10 year-mark, because of our current investment in technology and measurement of that, we’ll have a sweet spot to sit where people want to go for that spot to be measured and to get their customized program as to what that looks like.
James: 00:52:07 – So, when I talked about—you know, I actually resonated with what you said of—cause I do like the idea Chris, of the systematic process of feeding itself. I really do like that cause you want to build it to be able to sustain. I enjoy that. And that’s what I meant about those years in the future where the success is built of the people that were the early adopters and are wanting to do this with us. We’re probably setting up, you know, opportunities for us to create leadership throughout. So there’s a larger, you know, congregation of minds that basically allow the brand to grow effectively to ensure that each one of those brick-and-mortar situations have success.
Chris: 00:52:45 – I like that. Progress of vines. So how is OPEX best positioned to meet these emerging opportunities, then?
Jim: 00:52:53 – Well, we have a lot of people coming to us at this point. I think that people are sort of looking, you know, we use the word tribe, you know, they’re looking for a tribe where they can get support on an ongoing basis. So that’s a big platform for us right now is actually fielding the questions that are coming our way. In terms of growing that, I think that our best positioning is going to continue to be to educate and support people consistently throughout their specific journey. So whether that’s a coach and owner or a client, I think that that’s our biggest opportunity very specifically is to support that idea. You know? So as we’re building out business lines, does it actually benefit the coach, the client, and the owner? If we can’t get to all three of those people benefiting, you know, we don’t think we have a final product. So that’s really kind of, whether it’s a USP or you know, a momentum effect, we have to build it out that way because that’s what people really are latching onto in the marketplace.
Chris: 00:53:51 – So are you bringing that flexibility into the model? I mean, could the whole model pivot if some new technology comes online that changes the way that we exercise?
Jim: 00:54:04 – I sure think so. Yeah. I mean, you know, we integrated with Fitbot, you know, rather seamlessly in a big time frame perspective of it. James, Mike and the rest of the coaching team are constantly testing out new products and new technology to try to understand what might be beneficial not only to our internal system but also to our gyms. And then from a business standpoint, we want to make sure that if there is technology that would benefit them, that we get on a partnership with those companies, you know, that we’re aligned with so that we can help these gyms get it instituted into their facilities, you know, so that they can benefit financially and from a client standpoint.
Chris: 00:54:45 – Do you guys have an example of maybe something you used to do that you no longer recommend for coaches? I’m sure there must be a lot.
James: 00:54:52 – Things that, sorry—things that we do that we no longer recommend?
Chris: 00:54:55 – Yeah. So for example, in 2012, I wrote in a book certain things that a gym should do that I no longer think they should do. Because things change. Are there any recommendations for coaches that you have that you used to recommend but now you’ve pivoted away from and say do this instead?
James: 00:55:12 – Well, I could speak at length, which I won’t, though, it’s probably beside the call in terms of changes in Facebook culture and in description of program design. So there’s been lots, you know, just based upon—I still think we’re like, you know, I can’t even get my hands on the screen, but if this is the start of fitness and the fitness journey for, you know, the research of it I think we’re right here in time. So I think, yeah, so that consistently changes; actually every live program design assessment course that I do, there is a slight, you know, change in what’s best. And what it comes down to is really just analyzing each human more specifically. And therefore you’re going to evolve the systems that help that coach help that human. That’s where I’ll speak to for training.
Jim: 00:55:57 – And on the business side, I mean, we’re very principally based, so to not be gray, right? I think that one of the biggest things that we continue to refine, so I wouldn’t necessarily say 180-degree pivot, but where we continue to refine is how we measure things. You know, so what are the numbers that we are trying to look at very specifically to understand how effective our system is running, whether it’s specific coaching, retention, marketing metrics, et cetera. We have to continue to understand what the most important metrics are so that the coaches aren’t spending their entire day looking at numbers that aren’t relevant. You know, and that’s where we want to have leadership in making sure that they’re looking at the right places on. What we’ve seen with our gym so far and with our coaches, for that matter, internal coaches, is that the more specifically we measure, the more success we have. So continuing to refine what those are through, you know, through economics, through regression modeling, et cetera is, you know, has already been pretty beneficial.
Chris: 00:56:55 – OK. So, I’ve got a lot of questions waiting here and I’m being really selfish with your time and ask you all my own questions instead of the Q and A questions. So if you have to cut me off, guys, I understand. A lot of the questions that were being asked right now have to do mostly with the prescription of a one-on-one model. And I think that’s because as CrossFit gym owners, mostly, we’re seeing the commoditization of exercise. Orange Theory is doing it a lot prettier than most boxes are. And so owners are looking again toward actual coaching, you know, in a more individual way. So the questions that I’m going to ask you probably mostly relate to that. First off, what is the retention like for the brick-and-mortar locations?
Jim: 00:57:39 – Yeah, I mean we’re essentially saying we want 93 to 95% retention consistently. You know, obviously as a gym is either getting up and running, you know, we like longer-term contracts as well, so a lot of gyms who have longer-term contracts, they might have absolutely perfect retention for the first year. But as they get into the sweet spot, that’s what we want. But just like you, Chris, you’ve had clients for you know, 12, 13, 14 years. We’ve got coaches who keep clients for years and years and years. So that’s ultimately what we want and getting some of the nonsense out of their head that they’re going for six months or 12 months with a client is part of that six-month accelerator program. But anywhere from 93 to 95 we consider a pretty good sweet spot.
Chris: 00:58:21 – OK. So that’s year over year.
Jim: 00:58:23 – Well it would be on a monthly basis for the current total clientele after the year mark, you know, so that would be after a lifetime value of a year, if that makes sense.
Chris: 00:58:33 – It absolutely does. And I think you just made a point that I’ve never considered before, which is a gym that’s a year old probably has better retention than they did when they were three months old.
Jim: 00:58:44 – Yeah, we try to prep them for that, too, because you’ve got to have not only film it and nurture campaigns that prep you for that 10-month mark, but you better talk to your coaches about what’s happening month one and then the month 10; you don’t want to let somebody go for 10 months and then watch them churn out the door. Now that’s a deep rabbit hole that James would be great to talk about at another time, but you have to set up the relationship so that you don’t need to save it at 10 months or at a year and 10 months.
Chris: 00:59:12 – Yeah, that’s fair. Interesting. And that’s a great rabbit hole a lot of people would love to hear more about. Next question from Mitch. How do you determine how much a client pays, and if one client needs more one-on-one attention than the other, how is that cost assessed?
Jim: 00:59:26 – We think very economically here, so willingness to pay. So you know, obviously you have to understand what your cost structure is. We don’t like a big fat cost structure. We like a very manageable cost structure from rent to you know, the rest of your SGNA expenses. But from an ongoing standpoint, it’s what the market’s actually willingness to pay is. So that obviously has to do with demographics. It has to do with the marketing that you’re doing. But in general, you know, just very broad, loose terms. We do not think that any of our gyms should be priced at, let’s call it $200 a month. We think that they should be much higher because of the service that they’re offering. To go one step farther than that though, in terms of what happens if somebody needs more attention, frankly that is baked in to the monthly contract that they have because they get monthly consultation, they have daily programming. Their client is watching videos through Fitbot, commenting on their workouts through Fitbot, meeting them on the floor, you know, on an ongoing basis. If they need 60 minutes, they pay for private training. You know, so we don’t want to push into private training at all. We want them to have a good experience where they don’t need it.
James: 01:00:34 – And generally that question comes from people trying to wrap their head around a group model into program design. So I appreciate where it comes from, but remember that the client and the coaches understanding of the relationship is totally different. You’re not fixing what’s going on in that client’s head. They haven’t experienced that. They just know exactly how it’s operating, if that makes sense.
Chris: 01:00:56 – Yeah. So, Jim, you mentioned that, you know, the pricing model of each OPEX gym might be different. Who determines that? Is it the licensee or is it you and where are some places that number comes from?
Jim: 01:01:08 – Yeah, it is the licensee at the end of the day, because if we have a license in London, it has to be different than if we have a license in rural Nebraska. You know, so we do have to have some difference there. In terms of where we like to start, we like to start with where is the market for private training? Where’s the market for group? Why should you be in the middle of those two markets and how are you going to create your USP around your service so that you can market a higher value? Obviously, you know, they’ve gone through our CCP education, they’re in our licensing program. They should recognize their value given the level of attention that their clients get. Sometimes we need to push them a little bit though because they are used to that group model where it is a commodity. So we’re trying to bake in the idea of differentiation to the service offering so that you can actually explain to the market very concisely why you’re different because that would yield a higher willingness to pay from the market.
Chris: 01:02:06 – Right. OK. So, before I get to Mitch’s question I want to ask Rich’s, which is, is there a place to run the OPEX model alongside a CrossFit gym model? Same brick-and-mortar location?
Jim: 01:02:18 – Unfortunately not. Yeah. And that just comes down to the belief system that we would have here in terms of the difference in service of the two.
Chris: 01:02:26 – Do you want to go a little bit deeper into that, Jim? Like what would preclude me from doing OPEX, you know, in the next room beside a CrossFit class?
Jim: 01:02:35 – Well, so the deep answer here is that because of you know, legality, you are allowed to do it in a room that’s walled off, you know, with a different entrance and a different LLC. We don’t have a problem with that because that’s not what we’re managing. You know, so we are helping to get you up and running in an individual design model. And that’s the agreement that a gym would come in with. If you want to have two businesses, you know, that’s your prerogative. You just better do the work on the individual design side to make sure that you’re putting it into play in a way that’s going to help you have success for a long period of time as well as your coaches and client.
Chris: 01:03:14 – So you are watching over these licensees to make sure they are doing the work to be success. I mean, obviously you’re at a critical point in the brand.
Jim: 01:03:22 – Yeah. And very specifically, that first six months is the most critical. We have a ton of discussion with all of the gyms in the first six months. It doesn’t mean that we go away after that. It just means that specifically in that first six, they need to get up and running in a model that is effective. And if they don’t get up and running soon enough, we think, now, so far it hasn’t happened, but we think that they could fall off if we don’t have that conversation with them up front.
Chris: 01:03:49 – Yeah. I definitely appreciate that perspective. I think a lot of new entrepreneurs in any industry would love to have that oversight. Right?
Jim: 01:03:56 – Yup. That’s the really the goal of it. And then, you know, we’re continuing to build out the support mechanisms for two years, four years, eight years down the road.
Chris: 01:04:04 – All right. So Mitch is asking what systems come with the OPEX license? He’s done assessment program design before and he found them really valuable. He just wants to be able to take everything he’s learned and systematically implement it into a facility.
James: 01:04:19 – Yeah. Well that’s the—I’ll speak to you quickly with that. That’s the evolution of the market requesting what they want to do. Cause remember my story, CCP was just an idea of principles in coaching. And so, you know, Mitch, excuse me. You know, this is the reason for the growth of a spot for a coach to do their trade, is the OPEX gym. Because we had numerous people over time, like yeah, all that information, that was swell, but how the hell do I swing this in a group facility? Or how do I swing this in a globo gym? Or how do I swing this if I’m on my own? And really my answer all the time was like, well, you know, I just gave you the principles and here’s the success that you know, I got with it. Good luck with that. And we didn’t have that, you know, I call it a point of escape or exit over time for those people with those principles to have something to fall into and really feel at home with and with the same language. And so Mitch, we’ve answered your question. It’s called the OPEX gym. That’s where we’re going to teach you how to implement all of those principles and basically put it into your practice to help out.
Jim: 01:05:18 – From a systematic standpoint, you’ve got to go through CCP education. So you know, you need to go through the additional courses of CCP to make sure that we do actually have consistent language across the board in all of our gyms. So once you go through the rest of it, which, by the way, would be nutrition and lifestyle coaching and business systems, once you go through those components, now you have the same language and once you put that into play, meaning through a final project that James actually still grades, once you put that in, now we know that you can coach. So the systems would say that once you get through level one, we think that you have the ability to coach and we are OK with you being a license. So you can’t just come say to us, “Hey we want to have an OPEX gym. I want to sign up today.” And we’d come back to you and say you need to start education through CCP because we need to be able to say things to you on the coaching side that you’re going to understand.
Chris: 01:06:10 – That makes a lot of sense. Is that why you want like a clear physical distinction between one type of gym and an OPEX gym?
Jim: 01:06:18 – Yeah, I think that, you know, if we look at marketing and advertising, too, everything is getting more segmented and crystallized to the individual. So whether that’s through Facebook advertising, whatever, nobody sees what they don’t want to see anymore. They see what they want to see. So if you’re not highly, highly clear with what your service is, people aren’t going to want it. And they’re also not going to see it because the algorithms in Facebook, Instagram, wherever you’re looking, aren’t going to put you in front of them. So yeah, you can pay for advertising, but it’s not gonna matter because people aren’t going to actually resonate to the service that you’re offering.
Chris: 01:06:54 – Right. OK. And you’re worried about them bringing confusions if you had two brands in the same physical location.
Jim: 01:06:59 – Exactly. And we just, you know—again, you know, you can make money in a group setting, we’re not saying that you can, it’s just that—
James: 01:07:06 – The owner can.
Jim: 01:07:06 – Yeah, the owner can. So you know, it’s very difficult to have them, you know, somewhat marketing against themselves is what our belief is, you know, so it can be done. It just gets challenging, you know, to go back and forth.
Chris: 01:07:19 – OK, great. So you know the comment the owner can make money in a group model, I’m going to lead into Rich’s question here, which is what’s the coach’s compensation model under an OPEX facility?
Jim: 01:07:31 – It’s kind of a two-parter. So the first part is a percentage on the client. So that percentage comes from two parts. There’s a essentially a coach portion of what the client would pay. The client would only see one price, so it’s not confusing. And then there’s also a facility fee component that the coaches as a whole would have a pool of. And that’s also a percentage. So that pool comes from their coaching hours on the floor to make it very clear that they are getting appreciation for their time spent on the floor, but then their coaching is all based on the clients they have and the price point that they have.
Chris: 01:08:08 – OK. How are you managing these coaches? Like what technology allows you to manage the teams in the gyms?
Jim: 01:08:16 – If we take a specific gym, frankly it’s run through Fitbot and it’s run through Excel. If you really want the answer. Now obviously we’ve got billing systems that have reporting and all of that. So I don’t want to say that we’re not looking at that. But if we’re talking about specific retention rates by coach, it’s actually shocking how challenging that is to get out of most billing systems. So we take, you know, some reporting and give them some, you know, I know it’s simplistic, but even pivot-table-type stuff, you dump it in and all of a sudden you’ve got all your retention numbers, all your financial numbers, et cetera. And we’ve got partnerships with companies outside of us that allow us to have simplistic reporting and simplistic measurement, you know, whether it’s financially or marketing-wise to understand those metrics.
Chris: 01:08:59 – OK. That’s great. And my favorite question today also comes from Rich. Cool. Who are your mentors, guys, who is helping you get better and holding you accountable?
James: 01:09:08 – You know, I’ve lost a number of my personal mentors over the past couple of years. My mother being one of them. My shaman being another, and a very close friend and mentor, Bernie Nowakowski, who’s led the lifestyle coaching. And I took those actual physical mentors as signs that I gotta start developing a legacy and doing shit for myself as a new stage of my growth and development. Bu in the true definition of, you know, growth, you gotta be supported and challenged on that, and which we teach coaches all the time, you have to have mentors, you have to have mentees. And so I’ve been learning more so in my growth, and my mentorship have actually been my coaches and my staff and my athletes. By teaching everyone else, I’ve learned more about myself and what I need to do.
James: 01:09:53 – And that model has actually been a great mentorship goal for me. In the physical-fitness realm, you know, there’s been lots of them. Ironically just had a couple, you know, well two of them, you know, who are close colleagues and friends of mine now down here in the Valley just spend an evening dinner with me, which is a highlight this past Friday night, Mark Verstegenin and Dan Pav. Charles Pollock and Charles Staley, Louie Simmons, Mark Twight, Dan John, you know, I’m an old school strength-and-conditioning guy, and so those guys would be a couple of names that really influenced me for the personal-training and fitness market.
Jim: 01:10:28 – His answer was really good. I agree with a number of the names and obviously including him, you know, standing to my right, but to move outside of fitness for me, you know, cause my bigger journey’s right now on the business side of things. And so, you know, my wife’s uncle happened to be a big-time CEO of a Fortune 500 and he’s been great at helping me understand a lot of the big-picture look at business, and how I can take really any aspect of a business and start to say, well, what needs to change in order for this whole system to shift. And that’s been really beneficial. And I’m gonna, you know, kinda relay off of what James said is, my dad was an outstanding mentor and keeping, you know, to this day, he still tells me to be balanced, which I need because I’ll work myself to death if left to my own devices. And actually my grandfather was a big executive for a couple of different companies, too. So it’s been great to kind of see the differences and I’ve kind of had a couple of different careers over the last, you know, 10, 15 years, and to kind of find the sweet spot within OPEX has been really fun. And yeah, those people around OPEX, I would absolutely agree with have been really, really beneficial to me.
Chris: 01:11:44 – That’s great guys. OK. So, Jason’s got some great questions here. I’m going to actually defer him to you. If somebody wants to become an OPEX gym and you know, they’re taking your certifications and courses, where do they start? What’s the process?
Jim: 01:11:59 – Yeah, it’s pretty simple actually. You know, we run quarterly onboarding so your audience would know what that looks like, right? So every quarter we have a new group that starts and it’s the same day where the first call is and we dig in on that first call. So it’s a wake-up call from the day you sign up for this program because you’re getting content and you’re getting homework from day one. And that’s part of our recruiting process, is we’re actually recruiting gyms, and you know, just as much as we want to increase the value of our system, we want our coaches and owners to increase the value of their gyms. Cause that’s gonna just benefit everybody. So you’ll start to work day one on these homework pieces and then we have a call every single week from then on, that call’s on the same time every single week.
Jim: 01:12:45 – So it’s consistent, it’s all video. So everybody on the call is on video screens. And so it feels more like a collaboration versus kind of just a webinar format. And then we’ve got a couple of private Facebook groups that we post all the time in for specific collaboration homeworks, what’s going forward in the program. They constantly provide us feedback of where we can improve, whether it be the system or our partnerships, et cetera. You know, so you would start with those calls and go from there. And I would tell you not to go too far forward in the content or else you will blow your brain up. Ot the two brains, if you will.
Jim: 01:13:24 – Before you get to that, you have to be certified as a CCP coach first. So to back up, remember, they have to be educated through the CCP principles in order to have the same language to get entry into that licensed program. I’m not sure if that was part of this question too, Chris.
Chris: 01:13:42 – Yeah, I took for granted that people would know that, but I’m glad you pointed that out. Thanks. OK guys. Well, hey, thanks for giving me an hour and a half of your time. I know you’re extremely busy. I’m going to post some links where people can contact you directly right after the show. If you could give one big message to any entrepreneur in the fitness industry right now, what would it be?
Jim: 01:14:01 – Know why you’re doing what you’re doing. I would say absolutely that. And systematically you have to measure what you’re doing so that you can understand where you really are, whether you’re coaching or working on the business.
Chris: 01:14:13 – OK. James, anything to add to that?
James: 01:14:14 – Nope.
Chris: 01:14:14 – Fantastic, guys, thanks very much. Talk again soon.
Jim: 01:14:18 – Thanks Chris.